Thursday, May 10, 2018

Tracking Cuckoos to Africa

The number of cuckoos in the UK has fallen drastically over the last few decades. The British Trust for Ornithology has been tracking the migrations of cuckoos in order to discover why. By satellite-tracking cuckoos the BTO is able to learn more about their migration routes and their lives away from their breeding grounds in the UK. By identifying the areas of importance to these birds the BTO hopes to be able to better understand and explain the losses to the British Cuckoo.

In May 2011 five British Cuckoos were fitted with satellite-tags. The birds are called Larry, Peckham, PJ, Selborne and Victor. You can view their migration routes for the last seven years on the BTO's Tracking Cuckoos to Africa ... And Back Again. An animated Google Map allows you to watch the bird's fly south for the winter and return back to the UK in spring for each of the seven years.

You can find out what the scientists have learnt by tracking the cuckoos on What we have learnt so far. In summary it has been discovered that the birds tend to leave the UK much earlier than previously thought. They winter in and around the Congo rainforest. The birds actually only spend about 15% of their time in the UK. Important information has also been discovered about the birds' migration routes and important stop-over locations on these routes.

You might also like Where Do They Go?, National Geographic's wonderful map of the annual flight patterns of American bird species. You can also find many more posts on animal tracking on Maps Mania under the animal tracking tag.

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